how we do school-at-home

OMATAS has a job to do.

It must find a way, all the time, to build children’s self-esteem and cognitive skills. This year is no different.

From day one of the lockdown we knew that we had to keep looking after our students, so we did. The students got an OMATAS@HOME timetable that looked similar to their typical school day. Teachers initiated classes on the hour from 9am to 1pm, and we began teaching, actively.

Assembly started the day with a pick-me-up message and exercise.

The first week, we welcomed kids into the virtual class, and started orientating them to the platforms we would be using.

In our second week we ran a project in organisation: planning their desks, books and stationery as well as setting up TO DO lists. We practice and practice. They got better and better.

Turns out school is needed as a ‘babysitter’, so we made sure we were supervising the kids for as long as they could reasonably tolerate their devices. This has developed incredible independence in many of the kids.

The second most important thing became socialising. Kids missed other kids. So we chatted and laughed a lot. We showed each other our pets and talked about what we were having for lunch.

Once that was taken care of, we could teach, and boy did we teach. We’ve introduced computer studies, split up maths classes to target the gaps, delved into poetry, raised the bar in Afrikaans and ran the most magnificent science experiments.

The timetable became the rhythm of the day. Ending in reading to the kids in the afternoons, live! And we still do, three afternoons a week we read at 3pm and again at 4pm.

During the day though, classes tick over. They are recorded and shared so that if the students have to deal with something else they have a way to keep up. The recorded lessons also allow children to listen again, and again, if they need to.

But why do paperwork. Why not educate, properly!

Teaching kids to answer questions like: what should I do next? That is a great question.

Practically, we knew that everyone had a kitchen, so we played and played and played. We grew seeds, made crystals and exploded eggs. The cold spell had everyone making a meteorological station in their gardens, we are still tracking the weather because another cold spell is in the works. Then, SpaceX happened.

We are using the chemical reactions we learn about in the kitchen to launch rockets this week. We’ve introduced a few in-person lessons. This should be fun! (Safety first, of course!)

Handing over content and lessons to parents was always going to be a no-no and we never expected anyone to print anything. Copying skills are excellent for kids to develop saccades (eye movements that move from one fixed point to another) and besides why would you do paperwork when the kids had kitchens and gardens and YouTube.

It has been a blast, and we’re not stopping now.

Well just for a week to catch our breath…

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